Tag Archives: spam

interesting

the past few weeks (maybe as much as a couple months) i have been getting anywhere from 4 to 24 “porn spam scam” emails per day — you know the ones, where the guy claims to be a “hacker” who has “taken over” your computer, is emailing you “from your own email address”, doesn’t speak english too well, and demands some random amount in bitcoin to prevent him from revealing your “pornographic indiscretions” to “everyone on your contact list” (😒) — and i have been reporting EVERY! SINGLE! ONE! to their upstream provider, and to the bitcoin abuse web site… but for the past couple of days, i have noticed that the constant stream has dropped off considerably: two days ago, i received two messages, yesterday i only received one, and, so far, today, i haven’t received any.

i also noticed that, a few days ago, i started seeing specific SpamAssassin rules that are targeted towards the porn-spam-scam racket (bitcoin address recognition and “from:” address spoofing are the two big ones), but considering the massive influx of porn-spam-scam messages over the past couple of months, i would have expected a much more gradual drop-off.

anti-spam, anti-fraud information

the past couple of months i have been getting an inordinate amount of spam that goes something like this:

Hello!
I’m a member of an international hacker group.

As you could probably have guessed, your account X was hacked, because I sent message you from it.

Now I have access to you accounts!
For example, your password for X is X

Within a period from July 17, 2018 to October 3, 2018, you were infected by the virus we’ve created, through an adult website you’ve visited.
So far, we have access to your messages, social media accounts, and messengers.
Moreover, we’ve gotten full damps of these data.

We are aware of your little and big secrets…yeah, you do have them. We saw and recorded your doings on porn websites. Your tastes are so weird, you know..

But the key thing is that sometimes we recorded you with your webcam, syncing the recordings with what you watched!
I think you are not interested show this video to your friends, relatives, and your intimate one…

Transfer $800 to our Bitcoin wallet: 14bXUoPwruptLamUfKTuMW39Qy1q4ohX9w
If you don’t know about Bitcoin please input in Google “buy BTC”. It’s really easy.

I guarantee that after that, we’ll erase all your “data” ?

A timer will start once you read this message. You have 48 hours to pay the above-mentioned amount.

Your data will be erased once the money are transferred.
If they are not, all your messages and videos recorded will be automatically sent to all your contacts found on your devices at the moment of infection.

You should always think about your security.
We hope this case will teach you to keep secrets.
Take care of yourself.

please note: THIS IS FAKE NEWS!

whoever it is that sent it DOES NOT have access to my, or anyone else’s email account, despite what they may want you to think.

how do i know this? i have received at least 10 messages which are almost exactly identical to this one, down to the inconsistent english, carriage returns, and even the supposedly unique bitcoin wallet ID. the only significant difference in all of these messages is in the headers, which most people never see.

i want to go through this message, statement by statement, and show you exactly WHY it is fake news, and you shouldn’t buy into their scam.

first,

I’m a member of an international hacker group.

no you are not a member of an international hacker group. if you were, you wouldn’t have to tell me so. you are, in fact, a skript-kiddie who thinks he can make money by using other peoples’ code to mess up my internet: you are a vandal and a criminal, and i WILL track you down and turn you in, because it’s easy-peasy. 😠

As you could probably have guessed, your account X was hacked, because I sent message you from it.

any real hacker can tell you that you don’t actually have to have access to the account that’s on the “FROM:” line in your email, in order to make it look like you have access to that account. the fact is, i can send email to anybody i like, put whatever email address i like on the “FROM:” line, and 98% of the time, it will go through to the recipient without any difficulty. this is because the “FROM:” line is one of the easiest parts of the email to spoof. i have sent email that looks like it was coming from Bill Gates, and, if you didn’t know that i was sending it, and you have no way of looking at the email headers, you would think it was Bill Gates, and not me.

but you would be wrong.

then:

Now I have access to you accounts!
For example, your password for X is X

this password (which i have “X”ed out) is an authentic password from me, but because i have kept a list of every password i used, and where i used it, i KNOW that it is AT LEAST five years old, and has been superceded many times by more potent passwords. nevertheless, i also KNOW EXACTLY where i used this password last, so the first thing on my list is to write to the administrators of that place, and let them know that they’ve experienced a security breach.

then, just to make sure, i CHANGE MY PASSWORD AGAIN!!! just because they don’t really know anything is no reason not to be cautious times five… 👍

once again:

Within a period from July 17, 2018 to October 3, 2018, you were infected by the virus we’ve created, through an adult website you’ve visited. So far, we have access to your messages, social media accounts, and messengers. Moreover, we’ve gotten full damps of these data.

surprise! i KNOW that this is fake news, because i KNOW that i have not visited adult web sites. EVER! this may be a little more difficult for some other people, but for me, it’s a no-brainer: you are much less likely to be infected with a virus if you don’t visit adult web sites. the “full damps” of these data are imaginary.

not only that, but starting on 10 july — which is before the alleged “infection” — i was not even near my computer, much less using it, for at least a week, and i haven’t even had any social media accounts or messengers since about a week later. FAIL!

and, just as an aside… what are “full damps” anyway? i would have called them “downloads”… i have never heard the word “damps” used to mean “downloads”… do these people even speak english???

if you actually do visit adult web sites, you may be taken aback by this claim, but keep in mind the first part of the message, where they claimed to have access to my email account: they were wrong then, so the probability is quite high that they are wrong now, as well.

We are aware of your little and big secrets…yeah, you do have them. We saw and recorded your doings on porn websites. Your tastes are so weird, you know..

i admit that my tastes are quite weird, but the fact that you “saw and recorded” me doing those things is a lie: i don’t even have a webcam, or any kind of device that could record me doing stuff that i don’t even do in front of my computer anyway.

once again, if you have a webcam on your computer, it may be a good idea to cover it with a piece of tape when you’re not using it, but the fact is, people who write you out of the blue and claim to have access to your computer, are lying, more likely than not.

now we come to the real reason people send out spam like this:

Transfer $800 to our Bitcoin wallet: 14bXUoPwruptLamUfKTuMW39Qy1q4ohX9w
If you don’t know about Bitcoin please input in Google “buy BTC”. It’s really easy.

yeah, bitcoin is really easy to hide your transactions and make them more anonymous, but if the person who is asking you to send them bitcoin for stuff that they have been lying about, then it is also harder for you to get your money back when you figure out that you have been lied to… which is why it’s always a good idea to make sure that the information you have been given is NOT a lie before you make your transaction.

in this case, they’re lying about the virus, the adult web site, the visual and audio recording, and the amount of data they claim to have collected, so i am confident that, if i were to look up their bitcoin wallet address, there’s a good chance that it, too, will have been shut down for fraudulent activity. yes, it is possible for that to happen, and in cases like this, it is fairly frequent.

ETA: i’m wrong about this one. the bitcoin wallet at 14bXUoPwruptLamUfKTuMW39Qy1q4ohX9w is active, showing 17 transactions (at this time) worth 1.95616527 BTC, or, $12,949.81 USD at this time… all the more reason to realise that THIS IS A SCAM!!! if you’re interested in reporting scam bitcoin wallets, you can do so here, as i have.

A timer will start once you read this message. You have 48 hours to pay the above-mentioned amount.

this “timer” is more impetus for you to act immediately, without checking any of the above mentioned information for inconsistencies. i know that it’s not true because i have received several messages like this, over the past two months, and nothing has ever happened to me, my “data” has not been mailed to my contacts (as will be seen in the next statement), simply because 1) they don’t have any of my contact information, and 2) they don’t have any data.

they’re just trying to scare me, and it’s not working.

Your data will be erased once the money are transferred.
If they are not, all your messages and videos recorded will be automatically sent to all your contacts found on your devices at the moment of infection.

see? they’re threatening to send “all your messages and videos” — which they don’t have — “to all your contacts” — which they also don’t have — unless you send $800 to a bitcoin wallet which no longer exists.

by this time, you are EITHER freaking out and reading up on converting regular money to bitcoin, or you, like me, are laughing out loud, and wondering why other people are so stupid.

because, if you think about it, $800 is a fairly small amount of money to extort from someone who is willing to give it to you without doing their homework… so what is preventing them from saying your data has been erased, but, actually has been put into a separate category of data that can be used to extort more money from you, at a later time?

of course, if they don’t have any of that data (as in my case) i have nothing to worry about, but for people who might have data like that, who knows what they may do, even if everything else is a lie?

finally, a LEEEETLE TINY BIT of common sense, to finish things up:

You should always think about your security. We hope this case will teach you to keep secrets. Take care of yourself.

basically, if it’s on internet, it’s not a secret. if your computer is on internet, there’s a remote chance that something like this really may happen to you at some point, if you also keep your secrets on your computer. thus, the logical conclusion is that if you keep your secrets somewhere other than on your computer (or your tablet, or your cell phone), you won’t have any problems deleting the message when you get spam like this.

for those of you who may remember the screed i wrote about how to report spam: if you receive a message like this, that would be a good place to start. 😉

how to report spam

i use this spam policy, along with maintaining robust global email filters, running SpamAssassin, and blocking IP addresses that are used for abuse. the result of using these procedures has resulted in my having to get this far MAYBE as many as 10 times in a day, and some days i don’t have any spam at all. YOUR MILEAGE WILL VARY! and, remember… the more you do it NOW, the fewer spam messages everyone gets down the road!

this is written from the perspective of a person who uses an email client and a web browser. if you ONLY use a browser (if you use webmail), there may be extra, intermediary steps that are not written down here.

the first thing you need to know is how to extract headers from your email messages, which is different depending on how you get your email.

  1. once you’ve extracted the headers, go to this URI:

    https://www.iptrackeronline.com/email-header-analysis.php

    leave wherever you have extracted the headers — the “message source” — open, because you’re going to need to copy more of the message, later.

  2. for now, paste only the headers into the form, and click “Submit header for analysis”.

    the analysis is WAY more information than you need, but the information you DO need is right near the top: under the header “Email header analysis report” will be a table that contains “All valid IP Addresses found in the header”, and usually the top one (or, possibly, two) will have an asterisk (*) next to them, which is the “Probable originating IP address”.

  3. copy that address. if it’s two, copy the first one, do the next steps, and then come back and copy the second one and do the next steps for that number, as well.
  4. now, go to this URI:

    https://centralops.net/co/DomainDossier.aspx

    paste the IP address in the “domain or IP address” field, check the following three boxes:

    domain whois record
    network whois record
    DNS record

    and hit the “Go” button.

    then, i find that it’s easiest to use the “Edit” -> “Find In This Page” function of my browser, to search for every instance of the commercial at symbol – @ – which is used in email addresses.

  5. now, go back to the message source, where you extracted the headers (remember that?)

    select and copy the entire message, including the headers. now you can close the message source.

  6. select the message in your inbox, and choose “Forward”.
  7. this will open a new message, with the message you’re complaining about inside a forwarding header. select everything EXCEPT the forwarding header, and delete it. then paste the message source that you copied in where the other stuff used to be.
  8. then, go back to the web browser, and find every email address for the IP address you’re complaining about, and put them into the “To:” line of your new, forwarded message.

    SOMETIMES the information will tell you something like “Report abuse only to…” or something like that. you can do that, if you want to, but frequently the “abuse” address is disabled, and the other addresses aren’t, so i’ve found that it’s a good idea to send email to EVERY address, whether or not it says to.

    if your search at iptrackeronline.com came up with two “Probable originating IP addresses”, now is the time to go back to step 3), copy the second IP address, and continue from there.

    you’ll end up with a forwarded message that contains the raw, text-only message, which is addressed to at least two, and sometimes as many as 9 or 10 email addresses.

  9. if you’re REALLY hung up on privacy, at this point, you can search for YOUR email address using the “Edit” -> “Find” feature of your email client. if you do this, replace every instance of your email address with an X to make it obvious that you haven’t done anything except remove your address from the header. seriously, if you do this, and mess around with the headers too much, eventually someone will complain about it, and YOU’RE supposed to be the one who is complaining, here.

FINISHING TOUCHES:
i usually like to mark my new message “Urgent”, and i also like to get a “Return Receipt” (which is not available on all email clients). i also like to insert the words “ABUSE VIOLATION” in the subject line, prior to the original, forwarded header, so that they know that you’re complaining, and not just sending more spam.

if you (like me) run your email through SpamAssassin, or something like it, you may have a special header section that gives you reasons why this particular message is (or is not) spam. sometimes this will include things like URIBL_BLOCKED information, which gives you the URIs that are used in the message, which are blocked by various spam lists. if you get an identifiable URI, you can use the “Edit” -> “Replace…” feature in your email client to replace these URIs with human-readable, but machine-invisible equivalents, which will further attest to the fact that you’re complaining, and not just sending more spam.

——

it is important to remember that all of this information is time sensitive: if you don’t get around to reporting spam until two or three days later, it has considerably less effect than a report that is made as soon as the spam message is received. generally, if more than 12 hours has passed, i just trash the spam and continue with my life.

about half of the reports i send produce some kind of response. about half of the responses i get are automated, either telling me that the message has been received, or telling me that it has not been received for one reason or another. a few of them are, actually, human responses, usually saying that they’ve forwarded the message to their client (the spammer), or saying that there’s nothing they can do about it. this is where requesting a return receipt is helpful: if you get a return receipt, there’s a good chance that someone at least saw your message. even if the return receipt says “not read”, you know that it’s a good address, and that someone saw your complaint, even if they didn’t do anything about it.

step 9) is important if they say they have forwarded your message to the spammer, because if you have not replaced all of the instances of your email address with an X, then the spammer now has your email address, surprise! they can do whatever they like with it, which usually means sending you more spam. in extreme cases, they send a SHIT-TON of spam (like, 500,000 messages) or try to send you viruses or malware, so it’s really important to do ALL nine steps.

believe me, speaking from personal experience, cleaning up after a 500k message bomb is no fun. 😕

in the case of someone who says there’s nothing they can do about it, that’s the point where i go back to the IP address that i complained about originally, and put the /16 or /24 into my IP blocker (depending on how egregious the abuse has been).

also, i put commonly used words and phrases that typify abuse (things like “ALMIGHTY GOD” and “flight simulator” and “Pílula” and “电子邮“) into my global email filters, and update them with new information frequently.

occasionaly — VERY occasionaly — i get a response such as this one, which makes all of this rigamarole worth while.

also, why i only accept plaintext email (and why you should, as well)